Michael Phelps to be honored for destigmatizing mental health

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Famed Olympian Michael Phelps is about to add yet another accolade to his trophy room, and he’ll be coming to Boston to accept it. The Ruderman Family Foundation, a locally based nonprofit whose work advocates for disability inclusion, just announced it has named the repeat-gold medalist as the newest recipient of its annual Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion.

The highly decorated swimmer has been selected as this year’s honoree because of the strides he’s made in opening up about his personal battle with depression and anxiety, encouraging others to seek help and exercise self-care when needed, and pushing to destigmatize the common yet often quieted struggles that people have with mental health. In recognition of Phelps work, the Ruderman Family Foundation plans to present him with the award during a ceremony right here in town, the date of which is still TBD.

“Michael has shined a national spotlight on mental health and is helping to eradicate shame and stigma from our society,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in a statement. “He has changed the landscape of mental health awareness, and we look forward to working with Michael to create a world in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their stories.”

Phelps may best be known for his athletic prowess, earning a record 23 gold medals over the course of his career, but out of the water, the now-retired swimmer has gotten his feet wet in the world of advocacy. He founded the Michael Phelps Foundation in 2008; was a global ambassador for Special Olympics International; accepted the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Special Recognition Award for his work in normalizing open conversation about mental health; and served as an ambassador for the Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf campaign to help end the social taboo surrounding psychological health and learning disabilities.

The renowned athlete isn’t the only famous face to receive this honor from the Ruderman Family Foundation. Previously, the award, now in its fifth year, has gone to a wide array of celebrity recipients, including Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin and Harvard professor Michael Stein.


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